Ana Iris Simón and Diego Garrocho stir consciences

The II Congress 'Church and Democratic Society' of the Paul VI Foundation has provided debate and reflection. Journalist and writer Ana Iris Simón denounced the difficulties for "young people to build a biography that allows us to have a family," while vice-dean Diego S. Garrocho warned about "emotional and psychological instability."

Rafael Miner-March 12, 2022-Reading time: 5 minutes
ana iris simon

Diego S. Garrocho and Ana Iris Simón at the congress

The stability of young people, emotional problems and their roots, labor and salary difficulties, and of course the family, were some of the issues addressed by the round table moderated by Rafael Latorre, journalist of Onda Cero and El Mundo, in which two opposing assessments were perceived, although coinciding in some aspects.

While Ana Iris Simón, "cultural agitator", as Latorre called her, and Diego S. Garrocho went unceremoniously into the wounds of the current young generation (Garrocho spoke of labor precariousness, but also of "spiritual fatigue" and "uncertainty"), professor Amelia Varcárcel, more in the environment of the generation of '68, as she called herself, defended that "this world is much more livable than ever before", and "youth can plant good values wherever they go".

We will deal with this table, at least in part, in a moment. But first, the context. Two Aragonese set the bar high for the congress. Cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Episcopal Conference, and the illustrious jurist and economist Manuel Pizarro, president of the Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, began the staging at the Pablo VI Foundation, presided over by the bishop of Getafe, Monsignor Ginés García Beltrán.

Dignity, dialogue

I do not believe that there has ever been in Spain such a detailed and suggestive exposition of the Social Doctrine of the Church, supported by the papal Magisterium, and especially by the Caritas in veritate of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as the one made on Wednesday night by Manuel Pizarro from Teruel.

Far from sterile apriorisms and disqualifications, Pizarro stressed that the "market cannot become a place where the strongest subjugates the weakest"; but at the same time he emphasized that a "Christian cannot assume the comfortable affirmation that markets are amoral"; and he claimed "exemplarity".

Earlier, Cardinal Omella had proposed a decalogue to recover "a healthy democracy at the service of the dignity of the person and the common good", and recalled the Catholic commitment to defend the dignity of the human being, promote the common good, and spread dialogue, communion and fraternity.

And in case anyone could accuse him of anything in his eagerness for dialogue, in line with St. Paul VI, to whom Monsignor García Beltrán also alluded at the closing, Don Juan José Omella asked "again and again" forgiveness for the "very serious errors" provoked by some in the Church, but he did not avoid denouncing several issues, for example, those related to the family.

The message of Jesus Christ is under attack today, he clearly pointed out, by the "powerful ideologies of the moment" on four points: the Catholic vision of the human being, sexual morality, the identity and mission of women in society, and the defense of the family formed by marriage between a man and a woman.

What about the family, the Church?

This was also one of the core aspects of one of the roundtables, either in a clear or tangential way, with derivations of different styles. We refer to the comments on the family of intellectuals such as Ana Iris Simón, author of the successful 'Feria', and Diego S. Garrocho, vice-dean of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, who together with Amelia Valcárcel, professor at the UNED, starred in a disturbing table.

Ana Iris Simón offered a couple of indicators at the beginning, such as the suicide rate among young people, or labor rights, specifically severance pay, which "are getting worse," she stressed. Her comments and those of Diego Garrocho caught the audience's attention.

Later in the debate, Rafael Latorre gave way to a brief video by the Dean of Humanities of the CEU San Pablo University, María Solano, and referred to a comment by Ana Iris Simón about the lack of anchorages of young people, or that the bonds or loyalties of young people are not as strong as those of their parents.

In one of your columns you say that one of your friends has a very long-lasting relationship, and she gets married, and they are both very happy, and that is interpreted as an ode to the traditional family, said Latorre.

Ana Iris picked up the gauntlet, and confirmed that "I have two friends who love each other very much, have been together for years, and have married, and I have written a column for them [in El País]. In the face of relationships that we could call liquid [fragile], to take Bauman's idea, and other solid ones, there are people who want to make an invention, and talk about gaseous relationships, explained the writer from La Mancha. "I don't like liquid relationships, because they are almost stipulated in terms of the market and respond to what we see, the inability to commit to anything and anyone that we see in our generation. I don't like solid ones, because they sound like submission, like a life-long relationship... And they invent soda pop, let's see how it goes..., I don't know what it is...", commented Ana Iris, who recently had a baby, and who comes from "an atheist family".

In his opinion, "institutions such as the family are less and less considered. This also happens to the Church. The idea often ends up being muddied because it is a human institution. In the family institution, since it is a human institution, things happen that we do not like, and the same thing happens to the Church. I believe that the State is more efficient than the market in redistributing wealth, that in the name of the State crimes have been committed and things that I hate have been done? But that does not mean I stop believing in the State. I want to be as close as possible to that ideal".

Family, stability

"The same thing happens with the family. The family must be abolished, because a series of stories happen in it that I don't like. Well, no. What I want is to resemble that idea of family" which, in the words of one author, "is a refuge from a ruthless world, and increasingly so," he continued.

"With the Church it's the same thing. Yes. Is that why we have to go against the Church? No. What we have to do is to understand that as a human institution it should resemble the divine idea of what it should be, and not what it is," added Ana Iris Simón.

The moderator saw Diego S. Garrocho nod -that's what he said-, and gave him the floor. "Young people are beginning to miss stability, that is, the construction of a stable psychology," said the vice-dean of Philosophy at the Autonomous University. "There is talk of emotional instability, of psychological instability, and in the end that is a reflection of the global instability we are experiencing. The rare thing would be for people to have stability of mind, going back to that spiritual question, when everything is unstable, when there is no single place where one can fasten one's principles, one's hopes, one's fears."


"There is a part of society that talks about the family but does not work so that families can exist," said Ana Iris Simón. "On the liberal right there is a solid and fierce defense of the family, and that's fine, but then no material solutions are proposed to this issue. The left is very belligerent against the family, but then works for it". "Between these two discourses, one unsympathetic to the family, and a work so that these families can exist", there is nothing so that "we young people can build a biography that allows us to have a family", complained the journalist and writer.

Ana Iris Simón thus complemented an intervention by Professor Amelia Valcárcel, who had pointed out that "our salaries are beginning to shrink in a worrying way, and that with a single salary, the little flat that was talked about in Malasaña takes the entire salary".

The journalist and writer had specified at the beginning of her speech that her parents are not so old: her father is 55 years old, and her mother was born in 1969. Her parents are part of a generation that could "build a biography". This was one of her messages.

We will deal with other tables, such as those on labor or education, for example, at a later date. Now it was time for the round table on young people and the challenges of the world to come.

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